Easter fool

April fool’s on Easter,

cruel fate: no chocolate? Jesus

did not rise? Or he’s hiding

behind a bush, found

with the fake eggs, laid by

a real chicken, organic

free range and all.



This new anthology published by Caitlin Press includes 82 poets, 82 poems, edited by Yvonne Blomer.

Yvonne Blomer and Chris Smart will be reading from Refugium, April 25, 2018 at the Saltspring Island Public Library.


IMG_20180211_182207385_HDR.jpgI’m carrying my grandmother on to the plane. She folds into my arms, light as a bird. She feels warm and tender although she’s mostly bones. All her children, my aunts and uncles and cousins mill about on the tarmac waiting for the flight. It’s a reunion but I’m the only one from my immediate family. The stewardess settles Granma with pillows and blankets in a recliner. She’s content. Great Aunt Rose arrives in a bed complete with IV pole. One cousin suggests we stop halfway for a family meal. We haven’t taken off yet.

This dream, sparked by a pair of short shorts, to wear at the beach. “Daisy Dukes.” Would I dare? Granma suggested (circa 1967) passing her hat to buy me a new pair of shorts because my cutoffs were ragged. Too short for a respectable girl. She was a quiet woman who rarely spoke her mind but she always wore a hat over her crown of braids when she stepped out, even to the bank .

I am

I am from the farm dans la belle province, the land, frozen, snowed-in, snow fences and snowmelt. I am English with French subtitles.

I am stump fences and chokecherries, red maples and syrup, pancakes on Shove Tuesday.

I am potato fields, the 5th line, arrêt/stop. Barn cats and farm dogs, cow pies and puffballs in the pasture, the rushing creek & rickety log bridge.

I am small town where everyone knows your name, Sunday school, camp meetings, holy rollers and reticent Anglicans. I am low church with no candles; the pump organ belting out hymns, flies buzzing in the stained glass windows, the shadows between the pews, the kneeling bench with no cushion, creaking floor boards, dry wafers and communion wine on my knees.

I am the ploughed earth, the soaring pines, lilacs and mock orange.

I am Canada geese calling north in a great V overhead. I am Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen and the CBC on the transistor radio.

Farm Slides 013I am the river, the chutes, the dam and the mill at Portage du Fort, the smell of progress and Rene Lévesque. I am from Diefenbaker and the cold war, bomb shelters and paranoia.

I am red geraniums and dust, the sideline, tractors and the tin mailbox, letters and library books on rural route two.

I am highway eight, the truck with taillights tied on with binder twine, live chickens in crates for Kosher butchers in Montreal.

I am the anvil, the power take off, the rusty wheelbarrow and the voice of immigrant farm workers in the darkest hour, thunder and lightning on a humid night.

I am small, unseen, unheard.

Fall Garden



Tomatoes, home grown


Pendulous red globes droop on the vines,

beauties grown from seed. Nurtured,

staked and watered all summer. I pick

and polish on my shirt, bite

like an apple, sweet on my tongue,

juice squirts. In the kitchen, I pierce

one with the tip of a knife, cut

slices the size of my palm. Layered

on toast we taste life itself as the light

shifts towards autumn and leaves scatter.

My hands generous and powerful as my ancestors.


At first I resist. Fall clean up is never as inspiring as spring digging and planting . But I catch myself with this habitual thinking. A garden is a reflection of my inner life. The reds catch my eye, turn resistance into play. The smell of decay carries a tinge of sadness. I pick a bowlful of green tomatoes and a few half-ripe ones.  A   nugget popped on my tongue explodes with sweetness.  Tomatillos overflow the basket, their paper casings like lanterns.  Roasted with garlic and jalapeños I transform them into green salsa.

I pull up mildewed tomato plants, their roots, tentacles deep in the soil. The wheelbarrow overflows three times as I dump it into the compost.  Future nutrients, these plants started from seed, provided abundance all summer and go on giving as they  decay in the bin. We need to give back what we take.

Umbrella-shaped dill fronds shed seeds and dry bean pods bulge. Saved for next spring. Weathered stakes pile up like toy arrows. They’ve supported vines and held the weight of ripening globes all summer. The tethered twine is released and jettisoned. Self-seeded parsley and kale flourishes – a winter’s supply of greens.

I am energized and enlivened after an afternoon’s work in the garden, despite death and decay. My hands happy in the earth,  intimate with everything down on my knees.




A grouse moved into the yard today. I caught a glimpse of him by the Gary Oak yesterday but this evening I heard a  kerffufle, wing beats and scrabbling, as if a couple of birds were fighting for territory. The grouse  perched on the edge of the roof by the back door. Most days in spring and early summer, I hear the deep whoot whoot whoot in the distance when I hike up the mountain behind the house.


Sooty grouse, whoot whoot whoot, mating call

territorial display, hens come on down.”


On the trail, I find an owl pellet, regurgitated rabbit bones and fur.

Cool moonlight in the depths of night—the great horned whowhowho?


Rufus hummingbirds, iridescent flash and whirring buzz,

pugnacious males, first at the feeder, the muted females slow time.


Drought blooms, lightning strikes

forest fires plunder BC.


A pileated woodpecker tap taps a snag.

Crows, ravens and turkey vultures swoop.


Whoot whoot whoot,

friend or foe in the forest?


Rare finds: a chocolate lily, blue Camus in the meadow.

Deer ravage wildflowers, cedar, oak and arbutus shoots.


Within darkness light, darkness and light a pair,

an illusion of separation.